I have been convinced of the benefits and blessings of living books, great literature, great fiction in our homeschooling. We use literature-based curriculums. They have transported us into ancient times, allowed us to step into the lives and ways of famous people and have filled our imaginations with beautiful details of places we could only visit in our minds.
Some Christian homeschoolers object to all fantasy. Some oppose fiction altogether. They believe that Christians should only be interested in truth, and they only read biographies, histories and non-fiction.
Other Christians homeschoolers embrace all fantasy; stories containing ancient myths, paganism and the popular Harry Potter books.
I was conflicted about this some years ago. I mixed with homeschooling parents who strongly stood for both of these views and I found it to be a contentious issue.
I could not abandon imagination, fiction and fantasy.
I needed to find a place of discernment. In the process we watched some Christian DVD’s on this, and we “cleaned house“; we burnt books, toys, jewelery, music, DVD’s, videos, clothing …. It was a tremendously liberating, yet difficult process.
But in the 3 or so years that followed, we re-examined some choices. My kids regretted the destruction of some items and I was still caught in a “grey area” on the issue of our schooling choices of our fiction and fantasy books.
Personally, in those 3 years, my quiet times and journalling became dutiful, colourless. I sought the Lord and asked for His truth and freedom.
During a fellowship gathering in October last year, I experienced the Lord in a profoundly new way.
I had a vision.
Not only did the vision unfold as I sat quietly, but it continued with ministry, until it was a full story.
I was wonderfully set free.
In the days following this vision, I needed God’s confirmation.
Was it all just in my imagination?
In His word, I read in Jeremiah 1: 9-12 where the Lord asks Jeremiah,
” What do you see?” (asks him about a vision)
Jeremiah tells the Lord what he sees (a vision of an almond branch) and the Lord says,
“You have seen well (God agrees with Jeremiah’s vision), for I am alert and active, watching over My word to perform it.”
I was fully liberated.
God Himself speaks through visions and dreams.
My quiet times are now fresh and creative.
I have a new spiritual journal – a spiral notebook with blank pages and my entries are filled with pictures, poems, prayers, colours, patterns.
Sanctified imagination is not evil.
It is God’s gift to us.
I recently started reading a book The Soul of the Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe by Gene Veith, written in two parts. The first part is an exposition of the story, its symbolism and themes, and the second part he delves into larger issues regarding Christian (and also non-Christian and even anti-Christian) fantasy.
He mentions that The Chronicles of Narnia persuade young readers towards Christianity, just as Harry Potter books were written to persuade readers towards atheism.
C.S. Lewis wrote the marvellous truths of Christianity in Narnia, his fairy tale and Lewis said,
“Supposing that by casting all these things (Christianity) into an imaginary world, stripping them of their stain-glass and Sunday school associations, one could make them for their time appear in their potency? Could one not thus steal past those watchful dragons?”
Gene Veith says that imagination needs training just as the intellect does. He says,
“When we read, we exercise our imagination, picturing what is happening as we process the author’s words. With television and movies, someone else has imagined the story for us.”
He describes the spiritual realm as great abstract concepts, and that the Bible contains historical narratives and poetic literature and spiritual descriptions and images of God’s invisible kingdom and the return of Christ.
It is important for a child to know that when a human author creates a world, it exists only in the writer’s imagination and in his readers’ minds, but when God creates a world, it actually exists.
“The challenge is to discern the difference between good fantasy and bad fantasy, recognizing not only the content, but also its effects on the reader.”
“Children who have a strong sense of functionality and who know that there is a difference between the story and the actual world are inoculated against most of the bad effects of fantasy.”
As our homeschooling unfolds, I am inspired.
Imagination is a wonderful God-breathed tool to be used for Good.
How has the Lord led you in these areas?
This post was submitted and inspired by the upcoming CM Carnival’s theme ~ “Imagination”. Join us!